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Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb you enthusiasm. Well….not so much curb it but at least keep it in check. The early stages of a model railroad project are generally when our enthusiasm is at its peak. We have a clean slate in front of us and the possibilities seem endless. What fun lies ahead. Since planning and design occur first, these tasks will be performed when our excitement is at fever pitch. Enjoyment is what the hobby is about so that’s not a problem in and of itself.

However, if we don’t give ourselves the occasional reality check enthusiasm can easily push aside common sense resulting in a design that is neither practical, comfortable, nor fun. Six months into construction, phrases such as; “Well it looked good on paper.”, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”, and “What have I created?” will pop into your mind.

As you work on the design keep in mind that:

  • You will be the one building it

  • You will be the one paying for it

  • You will be the one maintaining it

  • You will be the one accessing it and walking around it

During this exuberant period it is just so easy to rationalize. You can kid yourself by saying things like:

  • I’m going to hand lay my entire 400 foot long mainline.

  • I won’t mind ducking under that…or those…or all of those.

  • I won’t mind cleaning the track in that eight foot long tunnel.

  • I won’t mind waiting ten minutes while my train circles like a toy up and down a helix.

  • If I just use number three turnouts and 14 inch radius curves everything will fit.

  • I’ll be able to squeeze down those narrow aisles….at least before the holiday feasts settle in.

  • If I stand on a ladder I can reach those last three yard tracks

  • It will never derail there

Those building their first layout are at most risk. Those that have built multiple railroads hold more awards in the ‘mistakes made’ department and thus have a keener sense of what can go wrong and where the pitfalls are. So have fun, be exuberant but check in with the angel on your other shoulder on occasion the one that asks, “Do you REALLY want to do that?”

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